Declining Food Stamp Enrollments in Kentucky

According to the USDA, the number of households participating in food stamps funded by the federal government in Kentucky declined by 6.7% from June 2013.

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According to recent data released by the Department of Agriculture there is a national decline in the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits. This trend is being seen in Kentucky as well. According to the data, the number of households participating in food stamps funded by the federal government in Kentucky declined by 6.7% from June 2013. 

This view paints a generally positive picture for Kentucky’s economy signaling that recent job market improvements are indeed affecting our region. The U.S.D.A. reported last year that  Kentucky’s 2nd  congressional district – which includes Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Elizabethtown – accounted for roughly 41,000 of Kentucky’s 422,704 current households receiving benefits from SNAP. The table below from the U.S.D.A. compares the characteristics of households receiving SNAP funds with those who are not.

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In order to be eligible households must meet federal minimum income requirements of 130% of the federal poverty level – a monthly gross income of $2,552 (or $30,624 annually) for a family of four. The graph below illustrates the growth trends of median household income and non-farm employment in Kentucky. The graph illustrates the relationship between employment and median household income. Even though data for median household income only dates to 2012, we can assume from the general relationship between these two variables that median household income has continued to grow since 2012 as employment has increased. SNAP eligibility requirements have been loosened in recent years as a part of the Food Stamp Provision in the 2008 Farm Bill and the fact that enrollments continue to decline suggests that increasing income and employment in Kentucky is making those who were once eligible now ineligible or participants are no longer in need of assistance.

(Click to enlarge.)

Chris Yates, Graduate Assistant
WKU Center for Applied Economics